Follow SMH Sport on TwitterEaster Show, Royal Randwick racing, open air cinemas – victims of Easter long weekend weather
Australian Turf Club chief executive Darren Pearce believes the right decision was made to postpone the first day of The Championships on Saturday, even though it will cost the industry more than $1 million.
It was the first time a Doncaster Mile has had to be postponed in its 150-year history. The meeting has been transferred to Monday after Racing NSW chief steward Ray Murrihy made the decision to postponed it at 9.30am.
“It is never ideal to make a decision like this, but we are confident of better weather on Monday,” Pearce said. “There are significant financial ramifications, given the corporate bookings and the fact we will not operate Little Sydney on Monday, but most of our bookings have confirmed they will transfer to Monday, if not they will be refunded.”
Pearce admitted betting turnover will not reach the heights it would have on Saturday at the rescheduled meeting.
The TAB refunded early bets on the non-Championships races, but fixed-odds bets on the Country Championship, Sires Produce Stakes, T.J. Smith Stakes, Australian Derby and Doncaster Mile will carry forward to Monday.
A sodden Randwick lay vacant on Saturday after overnight rain made the likelihood of completing the 10-race card remote, especially with the continuing rain through the afternoon.
“We can’t control the weather and although the track surface was good it would have deteriorated quickly with any racing,” Pearce said. “It was better to call the meeting off in the morning than to run three or four races and have to stop then.
“[Chief steward] Ray Murrihy and Lindsay Murphy [ATC racecourses general manger] were of the the opinion after walking the track that with the rain it would be opened up visibly and the surface itself would become an issue.”
All tickets will be able to be used on Monday but those who can’t get to Randwick will be refunded. Little Sydney, a premium experience overlooking the Theatre of the Horse, will not be open on Monday with ticketholders offered a refund or another corporate area that is available.
The Fashions on the Field event will not be run on Monday, instead all prizes will be rolled into one competition on the second day of The Championship next Saturday.
Murrihy had two inspections of the course, the first after a couple of horses worked on the surface at 6am, when it was decided to reassess the conditions of the track at 9am because of the rain and forecast for the afternoon. In that time a further 25 millimetres of rain fell.
“The surface was waterlogged and the radar was horrendous. We might have got through one or two, but to get through 10 races with big fields would have been a miracle, so we will wait for Monday,” Murrihy said.
“It was a tough decision but you would see the difference in the track in that period.”
The roll-on effect of the change to Monday, means Monday’s Warwick Farm meeting will move to Wednesday, while the scheduled Wednesday meeting has been cancelled.
The opening day of The Championship will still be televised live by Channel Seven on Monday. It will be on its main channel in Sydney and Brisbane but on 7mate in Melbourne.
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